My kids have been singing "Sing," the classic Joe Raposo song written for the first season of Sesame Street in 1970, for a few weeks now. It's because they've had Laura Doherty's fine album Shining Like a Star (CD Baby | iTunes) on rotation in the minivan.
Which made me think that I should totally do a "Monday Morning Smile" on the song. Because while it's ostensibly (and originally) a "kids' song," it clearly has entered the American songbook as a song appropriate for all ages.
And then it occurred to me, maybe I can get Laura's version in this post -- a version I really like and which I would've put into my "Top 25 Songs" list if I didn't think it wasn't a little unfair to put such a classic song in there. Luckily, she agreed to let me feature it here. So let's kick off this post with an exclusive, limited-time-only stream of "Sing" from Laura's Shining Like a Star album. [Ed.: I told you, limited-time-only.]
Here's the earliest version I could find on YouTube -- Bob McGrath, Emilio Delgado (Luis), and Loretta Long (Susan) sing with some kids. While I like it (McGrath has a great voice), Luis' Spanish verse seems a bit forced. Not that Spanish is bad, mind you, just that the lyrics don't scan perfectly like they do in English. (Hey, English lyrics for "De Colores" stink, too.)
Sesame Street cast - "Sing" [YouTube]
The Carpenters pushed the song much further into the American consciousness when they recorded a version for their 1973 album Now and Then. While I listened to a lot of post-natal Carpenters, I must have completely blocked out the memory of the children's chorus, 'cause it came as kind of a shock to me when they joined in. I don't think they add much to the track (I'd rather just listen to the duo), but there's no doubt that the "la la lalala"s are kind of addictive to kids.
The Carpenters - "Sing" [YouTube]
Shirley Bassey, on the other hand, who recorded a version for her 1975 album Good, Bad but Beautiful, seems to overdo it just a wee bit.
Shirley Bassey - "Sing" [YouTube]
Pink Martini dials it back enough to appreciate the melody and lyrics and brings out the bossa nova a bit more, and while they, too, sing it bilingually (with Emilio Delgado, no less), this new version much less forced...
Pink Martini - "Sing" [YouTube]
And it continues to be popular... here's a montage Sesame Street put together featuring many different artists singing portions thereof. It's lousy to listen to, but shows you just how much the song means to a wide range of people. (Can we please get the full version of R.E.M. performing "Sing"?)
Nathan Lane singing with pigs.
Nathan Lane - "Sing" [YouTube]
Perhaps the best Sesame Street version available on YouTube is this one featuring Alaina Reed Hall (Olivia) singing while Linda Bove (Linda), who's deaf, signs along. It works on many levels.
Alaina Reed Hall - "Sing" [YouTube]